Evening gents. Been a while since I posted here but hopefully there's still a few interested people around Not sure this is the right forum since there isn't really any modding going on here yet, but I figured this was the best place. This is a wee server build detailing my new backup server (soon to be followed up by a new file server). This build came about because of a) my disappointment with my QNAP and b) finding that there was finally a case on the market of the same form factor as all those little NAS units. I duly informed the ever-reliable Kustom who were so kind as to go through an excessive amount of badly translated verbiage and timelines that were more like mirages through Alibaba until, finally, a small consignment of these boxes landed here in Blighty. Here beginneth the build log. But first some background. Back in the misty days of yore, I had a large, hulking and above all noisy Debian 4U file server that I eventually replaced with a quite ridiculously overpriced QNAP. But the QNAP was small, dead silent, fast enough, and used very little power, and professed to be linux with even less maintenance than usual. So far so good, and indeed I've been running it for three years now after discounting the Synology models which were much less hackable to get third party software to run on them. However, there's been trouble in paradise. QNAP have not only been keeping woefully outdated pieces of software in the toolchain (many of which contain public and remotely exploitable vulnerabilities), but in their efforts to modernise their OS they've run into an absolutely cavalcade of crap, a veritable river of regressions. Suffice to say I chose not to supply them with any more of my money and went out to build my own linux file server once more, since I have more than enough linux-fu to do so (not that you need much - setting up your own FreeNAS or suchlike should be boneheadedly simple). This has turned into a two-stage project - I'm first replacing my backup server (a bog-standard linux machine eating up a lot of space in a venerable Lian Li PC75) and, assuming that goes well, then the QNAP. Before we delve into the details of the build, here's the hardware I settled on for the backup server; CPU: i5-3470T Mobo: Intel DH77DF RAM: 4GB DDR3 HSF: Akasa AK-CCE-7106HP Boot: 32GB Crucial M4 mSATA HBA: IBM M1015 reflashed to LSI 9211-8i IT-mode (no boot ROM) PSU: Seasonic SS-350M1U Cables: 2x SFF 8087 -> SATA forward breakout ...and of course the case, the U-NAS 800. Even with the over-inflated specs, the whole shebang is still about half of what QNAP/Synology will charge for similar. A quick note on the HBA; there isn't a single mini-ITX mobo out there with enough SATA ports to drive all 8 bays in this case (plus boot drive(s)), so I went looking for a cheap RAID card or HBA. I discounted most RAID cards because they're a) bloody expensive and b) typically, if the RAID card fails, you need to buy another RAID card of the same type to be able to read your discs again (since proprietary RAID cards tend to write their own signature to the start of the disc; been there done that with my ye olde 3ware), so for my purposes it's best to use linux software RAID (aka mdadm, and more on its awesome flexibility later) and a dumb SATA controller. LSI make a bunch of nice SAS/SATA HBAs that are well supported under Linux, but they're still quite expensive. Enter the IBM M1015. It's essentially a rebadged LSI 9211-8i but with a different board layout and custom firmware. Thankfully, it can be reflashed into a standard LSI but curiously it can be bought brand-new for about half the cost of the 9211-8i, and if you're willing to buy one of the never-used models from eBay that have been ripped out of a brand-new IBM xSeries, a quarter of the cost. Reflashing is a simple matter of a DOS/UEFI boot stick, zeroing out the ROM and installing a new one. Using IT mode without a boot ROM means that a) the HBA just passes the connected discs straight through to the OS and b) there's no waiting for the BIOS to kick in, resulting in a near-instant boot. Seriously, when the IBM boot ROM was loading I was worried I was going to be waiting until the heat death of the universe. Using IR (Integrated RAID) mode gives you "hardware" RAID functions, but since the M1015 doesn't have a dedicated RAID controller there's little point (other than restricting yourself to another LSI card if your HBA ends up face down in the dirt); even with the feature key (a hardware dongle that enabled RAID5 in the firmware), RAID5/6 performance on the hardware RAID is poor. Software RAID performance however is excellent as we'll see later. Happy to post more details on the M1015 if anyone's interested. The rest of the hardware should all be self-evident; for the backup server, I just need enough CPU grunt for RAID6, rsync and SSH at about 100MB/s (essentially the limit of 1Gbps ethernet). Given that my previous backup hardware, a lowly 1.66GHz C2D, was able to reach 75MB/s across much inferior SATA controllers when using only a single core for both the RAID and SSH/rsync stuff, and you can see why it made sense to go for the power-sipping 3470T. Why not an i3? Mostly thanks to Intel's stupid CPU-segmentation, since most of those didn't contain AES-NI or crc32 hardware. An Intel mobo was chosen because they're typically the only ones that come with Intel NICs (the only ones worth bothering with in my opinion) and both these NICs and the mobos themselves usually have the best Linux support bar none. The HSF is one of the lowest-profile you can get for the 1155 socket (important as we'll see later), I picked an mSATA drive so I'd have as few cables around as possible (and honestly, for the kind of linux install I'm doing here I could have got away with a 4GB drive). And of course a 1U PSU from the ever-wonderful SeaSonic range. The RAM was plucked out of a box I have that's full of RAM, and then doused in chicken blood so as to appease the dark lords of Not Running Memtest Like A Proper Builder Should. Only kidding - of course I ran memtest. The chicken blood is just to make it go fasta. Anyway, onto the pics and the step-by-step.